Gov. J.B. Pritzker Monday signed an amendment into law regarding the Health Care Right of Conscience Act, allowing Illinois employers to fire workers who refuse the COVID-19 vaccine and other measures.
Pritzker signed SB 1169 into law, which is an amendment to the Health Care Right of Conscience Act.
The amendment explicitly states that it is not a violation for employers to require “any measures” to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 “or any pathogens that result in COVID-19.”
The amendment further states that it is not a violation to enforce those measures or requirements by “terminating employment or excluding individuals from a school, a place of employment, or public or private premises in response to noncompliance.”
The Illinois General Assembly passed the bill in late October and sent it to Pritzker’s desk.
Pritzker’s office said in a statement on Monday evening that the governor signed the bill into law at the request of the Illinois attorney general.
Pritzker signed the bill, clarifying “the legislative intent of the Health Care Right of Conscience Act so that it cannot be abused or misinterpreted to jeopardize workplace safety,” his office said in the statement.
“This amendment will ensure the long tradition of vaccine requirements by employers can continue with regard to the COVID-19 vaccine,” the statement said.
“Masks, vaccines, and testing requirements are life-saving measures that keep our workplaces and communities safe,” Pritzker said.
“Keeping workplaces safe is a high priority, and I applaud the General Assembly for ensuring that the Health Care Right of Conscience Act is no longer wrongly used against institutions who are putting safety and science first,” he added.
The Health Care Right of Conscience Act was originally enacted to allow medical professionals to refuse to receive or participate in healthcare services that are contrary to their personal beliefs, including religious or moral objections.
The law has been cited in lawsuits against employee testing, masking and COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
“Despite deliberate attempts to misinform the public, nothing about this law takes away anyone’s rights to claim religious or medical exemption, which are protected by federal law. While only a small minority of people are skirting COVID-19 requirements, our goal is to make sure workers in high-risk environments are doing what’s needed to fulfill their responsibility to public health and keep everyone alive and healthy,” said House Speaker Emanuel Welch (D- Westchester).
The amended law, which is set to go into effect on June 1, 2020, still allows employees to claim religious objections but does not allow them to claim moral objections.